Since Catholic Charities’ Housing Transitions Program began in 2007, visits from homeless Latinas have never made up more than .004-percent of its client base. In January, the program set out to change that by adding a Spanish-speaking street outreach advocate. In three months since the position was added, the number of Latina clients has grown to 14 percent of the program's client base.

“Latinas are among our biggest populations, and are too often the most underserved,” says Margi Dechenne, program manager. “We are doing all we can to fill this gap, and these numbers are proof that having someone on staff that can relate culturally, and speak the language really does make a difference.”

The street outreach advocate has the task of engaging Latina adults who are homeless in downtown, Old Town and Southeast Portland. The aim is to help the women secure permanent housing through community resources.